Rea outlines wish list for 2021 Kawasaki ZX-10RR WorldSBK contender| Gordon Ritchie | WorldSBK
A crash in the final weekend of the year, in a meeting where just for once Jonathan Rea and his KRT Kawasaki did not look like potential winners of any of the three races, was unexpected for most observes at Estoril.
No podium scores at all in the finale for Rea was a collector’s piece that Rea would have quite happily left in Fortune’s auction house.
The big prize of his sixth championship was wrapped up on Saturday, even if Rea was off the podium, but on Sunday the prospect of overnight bike set-up changes came to just a fifth place in the Sprint race that Rea used to own as if by right earlier in the year.
His seemingly impossible crash into Razgatlioglu spoiled that potential podium party as well. He was 14th in the final race of his otherwise glorious record breaking season.
At the end of the final day he and his team-mate inside KRT, Alex Lowes, plus the rider who ensured Kawasaki would be Manufacturers’ Champions – by one single point – Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) took part in a celebratory press conference which seemed less than a fiesta for Rea after one of his toughest rounds of the season.
His focus turns to 2021, and what everybody expects to be a faster, better turning and generally more potent Ninja ZX-10RR. He is still hungry for more.
“Racing never stands still and you always have to improve, for yourself and improve the bike. That is the sole focus for this off-season. I am more hungry and excited than ever to come back,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.
Rea was not sure why this Portuguese weekend was so tough, especially as he and his team tend to deal with new tracks better than most. He did expect more on Sunday than Saturday’s fourth place.
“I really enjoyed this track, the layout and everything about it. To be honest we arrived completely blind with no set-up and no idea of the track.
“Even in race two today I started to use first gear in a corner that I had never used it in all weekend. We were constantly changing the bike, changing my feeling and step-by-step I understood what this track requests.
“I would love to come back here again and try again with some data. I think Estoril would be a welcome addition to the championship.”
When asked what Rea needs from an as-yet unconfirmed new model, or at least updated one, he said, “All the information is collected in a good way and goes to Japan. We hope that they can put that to good use.
“It is clear that Kawasaki takes this championship very seriously, but in the recent past we have seen the BMW, Ducati, Honda and even Yamaha this last year coming out with new models.
“We always have to improve, in general racing terms. Every single test we go to we have something new to try. My biggest requests are some natural turning on the bike, a little bit more rear traction and top speed under these current regulations.”
For Rea the loss of his chance to win 100 races in the final round is no biggie, and even next year an early 100th win is not something he is pining over.
“To be honest it is not huge motivation. I feel it is going to happen. I feel I am going to win another Superbike race in the next season with my contact, so I feel it is a case of when and not if.
“It is more important to look at the big picture and the big picture at the start of the year, with a factory team like KRT, is to win the championship. It doesn’t matter how you do that, sometimes; the goal is to win it and not just focus on one race victory. It will be a nice number to get to anyway.”